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Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies News

Representation in video games still falls short

Saturday, June 14, 2014
David Leonard

David Leonard

When it comes to women, the video game industry still hasn’t quite figured it out.

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo or “E3,” the annual video game industry trade show, just wrapped up with its fair share of controversy. Ubisoft’s creative director, Alex Amancio, drew harsh criticism after stating that their latest “Assassin’s Creed” title’s co-op mode would not feature female assassins.

This is but one example of a much bigger problem in the industry as a whole.

A study of video games referenced by David Leonard, professor and chair of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at WSU, found that 64 percent of game characters were male, while 17 percent were female, fewer than even non-human characters, who came in at 19 percent. The majority of characters were white, and, of the black men seen, more than 80 percent of them showed up as competitors in sports-oriented games. Leonard found black women had an even narrower role: 90 percent of black female characters were props, bystanders or victims.

Some may argue that games are overwhelmingly white and male because studios are simply appealing to their target demographics; white males buy their games, so they need to target white male gamers. Except the demographics aren’t nearly as skewed in one particular direction.

Learn more about video game imbalance

Why are so many pro basketball owners Jewish (like Donald Sterling)?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tribe lured to hoops by economics, history, and love of game

American Jews’ overwhelming dominance of the business side of professional basketball slipped awkwardly into the spotlight April 29, when National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver announced harsh sanctions against Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, at a press conference in New York. Silver levied fines and a lifetime ban against Sterling, who had been caught on tape expressing racist attitudes toward black people.

During the question-and-answer session, a sportswriter named Howard Megdal (who once wrote a book called The Baseball Talmud) asked whether the fact that both Silver and Sterling were Jewish had affected Silver’s response to Sterling’s racist tirade.

“I think my response was as a human being,” Silver said.

David Leonard

David Leonard

The interaction highlighted not only the predominance of Jewish ownership in the NBA but also the near-lack of African-American owners (Michael Jordan famously owns the Charlotte Bobcats). “People have difficulty talking about [the] conflicts, tensions, the differential privileges,” said David Leonard, associate professor and chair of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at WSU and author of the 2012 book After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness. “I think moments like this become a moment of anxiety for many in the Jewish community,” Leonard said.

“For much of the first half of the 20th century, Jews were very involved in basketball as players,” he said. “Especially among second-generation Jewish immigrants, this became a means of asserting one’s American identity, one’s physical prowess.”

Read more in The Jewish Daily Forward

‘Clicktivism’ moves civil rights forward in a new generation

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Experts say Black activism today takes place in digital spaces where young African Americans share stories and invoke conversation about their struggles with friends and strangers. According to David J. Leonard, associate professor and chair of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies, social media has its place in activism just as traditional forms of activism commonly associated with the Civil Rights movement.

“Activism and organizing are the basis of change; change comes through what [W.E.B.] DuBois described as ceaseless agitation. There are many different tools that are used to engage in this work,” Leonard said. He points to the information shared in social media about Trayvon Martin, the “online mobilization” to Jena 6, and the execution of Troy Davis, as examples of when Black youth use social media to create conversation.

Read more about social media in activism

Jan. 27-31: Humanities Week looks at scholarship, influence

Friday, January 10, 2014

Three free, public presentations will highlight Humanities Week presented by the WSU Humanities Planning Group.

Guest speakers from Duke and Michigan State universities will join WSU faculty in covering a range of topics, including:

  • “Is a Little Pollution Good for You? How the Humanities Can Contribute to Science and Policy”
  • “Four Glimpses of Scholarship in the Humanities: A Roundtable”
  • “Cosmopolitan Humanities”
  • “Empathy and Religious Diversity”

Get more details and a list of events

Exploring citizenship in Asian American women’s lit

Saturday, November 16, 2013
Pamela Thoma, Critical Cultures, Gender, and Race Studies

Pamela Thoma

Pamela Thoma, associate professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies, published a new book exploring the conditions of cultural and political belonging for Asian American women depicted in popular fiction.

Asian American Women’s Popular Literature; Feminizing Genres and Neoliberal Belonging examines the ways Asian American female writers address various family and financial pressures on women to reconcile the demands of work, motherhood, and consumer culture.

Read more about Thoma’s book

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